Monday, 25 April 2016

The Cat Report 18 - 24 April


Monday the 18th of April

An explosive and bounding start to the week with the return of the Sands wild dog pack. Chaos ensued as always, the doges coursed their way through the reserve. Both safariLIVE vehicles joined the melee as the dogs bounded across quarantine and into the Milawati drainage line. The dogs then came upon a hapless herd of nyala, an almost successful hunting attempt created pandemonium! As soon as the hunt started it was over and the dogs were off through the thickets yet again. That was until they rounded a corner and came nose to nose with a rather large and intolerant elephant herd, the great grey pachyderms rounded in unison, the intimidating shakes of their heads accompanied by deafening trumpets. The dogs halted for a brief moment before slinking off into the thicket, the decision to leave this particular herd un-tormented, brought about by the desire to eat.

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(Sands pack of wild dogs, Screenshot Credit: Debra W. Baudoin‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

The dogs eventually gave Brent and Sam the slip, but the action wasn’t over yet. On the northern boundary a new, young and extremely beautiful leopardess has been spotted hunting some impala rams. Brent sped over and arrived just as she flattened her sleek muscular body to the ground, eyes focussed on her unsuspecting target. The attempt was not successful and soon she slipped off to the north. Brent then moved on in search of any other interesting animals, soon he received yet another call on the radio to say the leopardess has crossed back into Djuma. WE arrived just as she had expertly disguised herself on the top of a termite mound to avoid a curious hyaena. With the better visuals we were able to identify her as Tsakani, the late Kwatile’s stunning 2 year old offspring.

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(Tsakani, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)‎

Later on, that afternoon the dogs are found yet again. Still on the hunt and energetic as ever. Yet again the hunt was accompanied by both of the safariLIVE vehicles, never missing a single moment of action. Soon darkness fell and it was time to leave the pack, lights are not used on the dogs at night due to the endangered nature of the species. We were lucky enough to get one final view of the dogs with one of our special night adapted cameras, yet the soon dashed off into thick bush, leaving us in a state of exhilaration and wonderment.

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(Sands wild dog pack, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Tingana, the dominant male leopard of the area was also found this afternoon by James. He had managed to conceal himself and his kill in one of the thickest blocks on Djuma. So much so that after a brief visual of him walking through the bush we lost sight of him as he lay in a dense, shady thicket. He remained flat for the majority of the afternoon.

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(Tingana, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Tuesday the 19th of April

James returned early to the sight of Tingana’s kill this morning. The kill has gone and after a little searching has turned up in the boughs of a tall and sleek jackalberry tree. This hoist is a good indication that he is recovering well from the injuries he received to both of his back legs a few weeks ago. After a few minutes of searching his handsome spots are found in the dappled shade. Two brave hyaena then approached the impressive cat sniffing around for any scraps. Tingana then slept out the remainder of the morning. Later that afternoon Sam returned to the area to find the male leopard still flat and relaxed, hiding away from the heat of the day. The hyaena were still hanging around but just as hot an uninterested in braving the intense sun.
Once the heat of the day had relented slightly Tingana made an impressive and graceful leap to the raw kudu carcass and spent the rest of the afternoon feeding. The hyaena, not wanting to miss any feeding opportunity, waited at the base of the trunk with ravenous grins.

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(Tingana, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

To the far east on Cheetah Plains an old favourite has made an appearance. Quarantine male leopard has been found resting up in the limbs of an airy marula tree. He spent the hottest hours relaxing in the shade before descending with the darkness. He made his way through the reserve rolling in all that was smelly and stopping for a brief drink right next to the vehicle before moving off into the darkness.

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(Quarantine, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Cheetah Plains)

Wednesday the 20th of April

Another day filled with spots as Mr Tingana filled the airwaves. He spent the morning fat and flat shaped, his stomach to the point of bursting. After a day of lazing in the shade he once again ascended the Jackalberry tree to finish off his kudu kill. The hyaena once again waiting at the base of the trunk gazing into it’s high boughs hopefully. Being as full as he was Tingana seemed not to care much about the precarious placement of his kill and lazily caught it every time it threatened to plummet into the waiting jaws. Eventually though all good things come to an end and a few large pieces were dropped onto the heads of the waiting hyaena’s.

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(Tingana, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Thursday the 21st of April

The boys are back in town! Reports on the radio lead Sam to 4 of the birmingham male lions. The big cats are all fast asleep and the only movement seen comes when a shady spot became a sunny spot. Later on the sunset safari the lions are found yet again, in the same place still in a state of static inertia. The remained in this state until the closing hours of safariLIVE.

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(Birmingham male lions, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Friday the 22nd of April

Lions again as the birmingham coalition was found again this morning. Reports on the radio indicate that the dominant males had quite a busy night walking a total of about 20kms (12.5 miles.) Brent eventually caught up with the lions soon after that had crossed back onto Djuma. By the time we found them they were yet again in a deep and comfortable slumber state.

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(Birmingham male lions, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain, safariLIVE, Djuma)‎

Later that afternoon Sam returned to the sleeping lions and watched them as they snoozed the daylight hours away. Eventually as the sun descended upon the Drakensburg Mountains, the lions arose and meandered slowly back towards the northern boundary. Sam eventually lost sight of them as the final seconds of the sunset safari slipped away.

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(Birmingham male, Screenshot Credit: Deborah Bonneville, safariLIVE, Djuma)‎
Saturday the 23rd of April
The WE crew had a fitful night's sleep as the booming roars of the Birmingham males and the Selati males kept us from our much needed beauty rest. Sam went out to the northwest corner of Djuma to check Sydney’s dam. As he caught a first glimpse of the dam he was indeed greeted by the sight of 4 Birmingham lions. Sitting proudly in the cool morning light, the soon became mobile and within minutes had crossed south, back into Djuma. As they walked it was clear that a couple of the coalition members were limping and looked rather sorry for themselves. It seemed they had been involved in a scrap, of sorts, with the Selati males, hence the thunderous roars all through the night. Tensions were high among the lions and a small fight broke out between brothers as they rested from a brief walk. The big cats focused most of their attention on scent marking before eventually going flat for the day.
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(Birmingham male, Screenshot Credit: Kaarina Pietiäinen‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

Later that evening, Brent returns to find them up and about. It was a scene to behold as 3 members of the coalition stood in unison against the backdrop of a perfect African sunset. All 4 then slowly made their way north yet again, we then lost them to the darkness as they crossed out boundary and slunk off into some thick bush.

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(Birmingham males, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Sunday the 24th of April
Joy and happiness all round this morning as Karula is found yet again. She’s made a successful duiker kill and hoisted it high into the boughs of a tree. Brent was first on scene and found the graceful cat feeding, after a short while however she brought the kill down from its lofty height and began making soft contact calls. Soon enough her two fuzz-balls of joy came slinking through the grass to be at her side. It is incredible how after only a few weeks of life the cubs have already developed their own personality. The bolder of the two showed no fear and pulled a few scraps off the kill while the more cautious cub hid out of sight. Brent eventually left to graciously allow everyone to get some quality time with the Queen and her cubs.

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(Karula’s cub, Screenshot Credit: Madeleine Skeoch‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)
Later that afternoon the 4 Birmingham males were found, this time at Buffelshoek dam. They spent the majority of the afternoon fast asleep, their bellies looking significantly fuller than the day before. There is however, some sad news, one of the 5-member coalition has been found dead to the north in Buffelshoek. The report came in over the radio and was shared by James with us all. It is not yet known what caused the passing of the magnificent lion, identified as “Scrapper,” but with an investigation pending our expert guides will be sure to keep any new information up-to-date.

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(“Scrapper” Birmingham male [back], Screenshot Credit: Birmingham Male Lions Facebook page, safariLIVE, Djuma)
On a lighter note, when James returned to where Karula and her gorgeous cubs were spotted earlier an incredible sighting unfolded. After a good deal of grooming the stunning leopardess called to her cubs and without hesitation they came bounding out of a thicket towards her. The bolder and slightly bigger cub was first to mom’s side again and she proceeded to groom the youngster quite thoroughly until the more cautious cub caught up. The queen then lead them straight to where James was parked and proceeded to have another cub grooming session within mere meters of the safariLIVE vehicle. This gave James the opportunity to accurately sex the bolder cub. WE can now say with certainty that at least one of Karula’s new cubs is definitely a male, while patience is required to find out the sex of the other little cub it is certainly wonderful to know that Djuma now has a confirmed prince!

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(Karula and cub, Screenshot Credit: Gabi Hossain‎, safariLIVE, Djuma)

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